Rounds 2020 race rated solid Republican by Inside Elections (Formerly Rothenburg report)

Early last month, Inside Elections (formerly the Stuart Rothenburg report) released US Senate rankings for 2020, and it appears that South Dakota’s Junior US Senator Mike Rounds starts out as one of 16 US Senators solidly in safe territory, noting it as “Solid Republican:”

 

Read the entire article here.

Americans for Prosperity and American Civil Liberties Union Come Together to Support Presumptive Probation 

(Well, this isn’t something you see every day… – editor PP)

Americans for Prosperity and American Civil Liberties Union Come
Together to Support Presumptive Probation 

SIOUX FALLS, SD—Americans for Prosperity-South Dakota (AFP-SD) and the American Civil Liberties Union  of South Dakota (ACLU-SD) today announce their joint opposition to Senate Bill 19. If passed, this legislation would repeal presumptive probation, originally instituted with a series of criminal justice reforms during the 2013 legislative session. Presumptive probation allows low-level offenders to rehabilitate their lives without adding to our overcrowded prison population.

AFP-SD State Director Don Haggar issued the following statement:

“We constantly seek policies that break barriers for South Dakotans, and that’s exactly what we’ve seen through having presumptive probation available in our criminal justice system. South Dakota’s criminal justice system should foster the improvement of individuals who have paid their debts to society and we vehemently oppose the barriers that are built by removing the option of presumptive probation.”

ACLU of South Dakota Policy Director Libby Skarin issued the following statement:

“South Dakota should preserve the presumptive probation reforms made in 2013 and recognize that prison terms for low-level offenders cause more harm than good by preventing offenders from staying in their communities where they can work and care for their families. Presumptive probation still allows judges to sentence low-level offenders to prison time if they believe it is warranted – a necessary element to ensuring judges make decisions based on their expertise and knowledge of the facts in each individual case.

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Via KCCR News – Governor Kristi Noem’s Weekly Press Conference

From KCCR Radio in Pierre, via Facebook:

—-   video has been taken down by the facebook page owner —

And Governor Noem starts with talking about her opposition to industrial hemp, unregulated CBD oil, where we don’t know what’s exactly in it, and the problems they would create for Law Enforcement in keeping illegal drugs out of South Dakota. (Apparently, drug dogs will hit on industrial hemp just as it does regular pot.)

Hot tip.. Amendments and vote may be coming on House Bill 1087 Campus Free Speech Act this afternoon

My spies in the Capitol are telling me that advocates of the free-speech bill hammered out some changes in HB 1087, the Campus Free Speech Act, that are going to be brought to the floor this afternoon to help guarantee the rights of students to free speech and intellectual diversity at our state institutions.

What I’m hearing is that the provision for mandatory history in college may be excised from the bill, and brought up separately. And the word around the third floor is that the amendment and vote on the measure will be today.

I’m told that the main opposition to the measure is viewed as being driven by the Board of Regents… who are said to be causing consternation with legislators who want to deal with the free-speech issues and keep the campuses open to different ideas.  And if that’s correct, I’m not sure their efforts to protect the snowflakes on campus from being offended by something they don’t agree with is worth burning their bridges with Legislators and a Governor who has been very definitive in her support for campus free speech.

Stay tuned for more to come!

UPDATE – Spoke too soon! They amended and got the heck out of town, deferring final action until Tuesday.

Rounds Reintroduces IHS Assessment Legislation

Rounds Reintroduces IHS Assessment Legislation

Bill calls for HHS Secretary to undertake assessment of IHS health care delivery and financial management processes

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today reintroduced the Assessment of the Indian Health Service Act of 2019. He previously introduced this legislation during the 115th Congress, where it advanced out of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee with bipartisan support.

“Tribal members in South Dakota and across the Great Plains Region are in the midst of a health care crisis,” said Rounds. “For far too long, tribal members who rely on Indian Health Service (IHS) for health care have faced unimaginable horrors. The financial, structural and administrative problems at IHS have resulted in tribal members receiving misdiagnoses, waiting too long in emergency rooms, and in some cases dying due to inadequate care. IHS has a trust and treaty responsibility to provide proper health care to tribal members and it has failed in its duty. An assessment will allow us to take a close look at the failures of the IHS so that we can work in close consultation with the tribes to immediately solve these problems and begin providing the reliable, adequate care our tribal members deserve. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move it across the finish line this Congress.”

Rounds’ legislation calls for the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to contract an assessment of IHS’s health care delivery systems and financial management processes at IHS direct-care facilities. Rounds first requested an assessment of IHS in 2016. Heintroduced legislation for an assessment of IHS in 2017. South Dakota’s tribal chairmen have shown continued support for this measure.

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If anyone wants to pay me $70k to write, I’d encourage you to give me a call.

So, I’m scanning Facebook this morning before work, and I notice one of the Constitution party goofballs has tagged a new Shad Olson manifesto regarding yours truly.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d say he was all out of love for me. (Auto tune and all.)

The gist of it is that is Shad repeating his silly claim from a while back that he was asked to create the SDWC. Because you all know you’d like to read 10 page screeds of conspiracy theories.  But the difference now is that the former Gordon Howie campaign manager is adding – in a really long run-on sentence – a previous Lora Hubbel claim that I’m being paid one meeelion doll….. er, Seventy Thousand dollars on an annual basis to write SDWC:

Sources tell me that a salary of $70k a year from benefactors of the South Dakota GOP, plus ad revenue in election years by establishment cronies (or some reasonable facsimile thereof in the same ballpark) is the going rate to get a man to surrender his principles and maintain the pretense of an independent news medium that is every bit as phony-baloney as CNN, MSNBC and the big three and every bit as false as the imitation naugahyde elephant suits that the Dan Lederman’s, Jeff Partridge’s, Dave Roetman’s and Dennis Daugaard’s of the world pull over the eyes of kindly South Dakota folk who are just too polite and trusting not to believe the very best about what their leadership promises and their RINO blogs reinforce.

Read that silliness here.

Let me state something irrefutably and unequivocally for the record:   If you have evidence that the SDGOP or their benefactors are paying me $70,000 a year, for gosh sake, send it to me, because the check has clearly been misplaced and lost in the mail. If anyone wants to pay me $70,000 for writing a website, drop me a note.  Not that I don’t enjoy punching a clock and helping people with insurance claims, as I need to do in a few minutes, but my mother didn’t raise a schmuck.

If someone wants to pay me more than I’m making in my 8-5 job to write a political blog, I‘m here for you.

Just don’t tell Lora or Shad. They might think there’s a conspiracy or something.

Rounds Joins Thune, Warner to Introduce Legislation to Address Student Debt Crisis

Rounds Joins Thune, Warner to Introduce Legislation to Address Student Debt Crisis

Legislation would allow employers to offer tax-free student loan assistance to help their employees pay off student loan debt

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) joined his colleagues in introducing legislation to help Americans tackle their student loan debt. Led by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), the Employer Participation in Repayment Act would allow employers to contribute up to $5,250 tax-free to their employees’ student loans – providing employees with much-needed relief and employers with a unique tool to attract and retain talented employees.

“With the cost of education skyrocketing, student loan debt is at an all-time high,” said Rounds. “Our legislation would open up additional tools to help both students dealing with education loans and employers seeking to attract new hires. I’m pleased to join Sens. Thune and Warner in this effort to ease the financial burden for families seeking a college education.”

According to reports, one in four Americans have student loans, and student debt in the U.S. reached $1.5 trillion in 2018. Student debt is a significant financial burden that not only influences the way our workforce saves and spends, but also has a stifling effect on the economy. TheEmployer Participation in Repayment Act would update an existing federal program so that it works better for employees living with the reality of burdensome student loan debt. The Employer Education Assistance Program, as currently written, only provides assistance for workers who are seeking additional education. It does not extend to individuals who have already incurred student loan debt during their undergraduate or graduate studies.

Additional cosponsors of the bill include U.S. Sens. Angus King (I-Maine), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-N.M.).

The legislation has also been introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Scott Peters and (D-Calif.) and Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and has support from numerous educational organizations.

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Noem Levels Scholarship Playing Field for Homeschool Students, Signs Eleven Bills into Law

Noem Levels Scholarship Playing Field for Homeschool Students, Signs Eleven Bills into Law   

PIERRE, S.D. – Governor Kristi Noem today signed a bill to make homeschool students eligible, on an equal basis, for the South Dakota Opportunity Scholarship.

“Empowering families means supporting each family’s decisions for education,” said Noem. “This legislation levels the playing field for all South Dakota students by removing an unnecessary scholarship barrier imposed on homeschool families. I am pleased to sign this bill into law today.”

HB1040 lowers the required ACT score for homeschool students to 24, the same score required for public and private school students applying for the Opportunity Scholarship. Currently, homeschool students must score a 28 to qualify for the scholarship.

The Opportunity Scholarship provides up to $6,500 over four years to qualifying students who attend colleges, universities, or tech schools in South Dakota.

Noem approved the following pieces of legislation this afternoon:

  • HB1007 – An act to revise certain provisions regarding the exemptions from the twelve-month residency requirement for university students
  • HB1011 – An act to revise certain provisions relating to the South Dakota Retirement System
  • HB1012 – An act to revise certain provisions regarding state laboratory services
  • HB1018 – An act to transfer the collection of various fees from the Department of Revenue to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
  • HB1023 – An act to revise certain provisions regarding the sale and purchase of big game animal parts
  • HB1033 – An act to revise provisions regarding transaction of business by trust companies
  • HB1038 – An act to authorize the demolition of a South Dakota State University building and to make an appropriation therefor
  • HB1040 – An act to establish certain provisions regarding the opportunity scholarship program
  • HB1048 – An act to authorize a public body to conduct certain deliberations in an executive or closed meeting
  • SB10 – An act to update references to certain federal motor carrier regulations
  • SB25 – An act to revise the authority of Department of Revenue special agents

Senator Thune speaks about the race to 5G

On Facebook:

Thune Discusses South Dakota’s Role in Delivering High-Speed Broadband Services, Including 5G Technology

“Whoever wins the race to 5G is going to benefit enormously economically from that. You are going to have speeds 100 times faster, more responsiveness, more access, [and] more connectivity.” 

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, was a featured speaker today at an Axios-hosted event about innovation in America’s cities. Thune discussed South Dakota’s role in helping America win the race to 5G mobile broadband technology and his efforts to spur technology, spectrum availability, and innovation by way of legislative initiatives like his MOBILE NOW Act, which became law in 2018, STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act, and AV START Act. 

South Dakota Leadership:

“What I hope to do is to be able to see rural areas benefit from [5G] as well,” said Thune. “I think a lot of it will have to do with the individual communities … We have a new, young mayor in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who is very aggressively working to make sure that Sioux Falls and that South Dakota is on the map when it comes to fifth generation technology, looking at ways to lower barriers and impediments to that type of investment, and seeking partners who will help join in that effort.”

“I think the companies that are going to invest in this are going to be looking for those cities and states that have a progressive view of how we get there and make it easier, not harder to develop that. Like I said, the city of Sioux Falls is really leading on that. Our municipal league in South Dakota has come up with a sort of a standard ordinance that municipalities can adopt that again would enable investment and build-out. I think we have to make it easier, not harder when it comes to the role that governments play if we want to see this really develop quickly.”

“In a state like South Dakota, we have a lot of rural telephone cooperatives and smaller companies that are making investments, and there are programs that are available that provide incentives for them to do that. We have a company called Golden West Telecom in western South Dakota, which is where I’m from, and they’ve done a great job – have figured out how to leverage some of the federal opportunities that are available, and they’ve built out a lot and are continuing to build out, and we want to incentivize that.”

Innovation’s effect on industries:

“If you look at rural areas of the country, you know, you take, for example, a farmer in South Dakota that uses precision agriculture – field sensors, remote monitoring, mobile devices, the ability to regulate how much fertilizer, water, seed, pesticide you apply to a particular tract of ground, and maximize not only your yields – the bushels that you derive from that – but also to drive down your operating costs, it’s going to make it way more profitable.

“I mean, the productivity gains are going to be enormous in so many sectors of the economy – agriculture of course being one that’s important in our state, but telemedicine, telehealth, I mean, that has life-saving opportunities. You heard about ‘smart cities’ and reducing congestion – you know, the amount of pollutants we’re putting into the environment. There are some enormous gains that are out there for us, but it is going to take a competitive, free market approach to this where everybody is in there trying to do their best to win the race.”

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